Northern Ireland news

Mourners hear deaths of three members of Co Derry family 'leave a gap that can never be filled'

The funeral procession of Paul and Varena Creelman arriving at St Mary’s Church, Drumagarner, alongside that of her brother Phil Hegarty, who were all killed in the road crash. Picture by Pacemaker Press

THE deaths of three members of a Co Derry family "leave a gap that can never be filled", mourners at their joint funeral heard yesterday.

The community of Kilrea came together to remember husband and wife Paul and Varena Creelman and her brother Phil Hegarty, who died in a road crash earlier this week.

Mourners lined the streets of the village to say their final farewells as their coffins were brought to St Mary's Church, Drumagarner for Requiem Mass.

All three lived on Coleraine Street and were well-known and highly respected members of the tight-knit community.

Fr Ciaran Hegarty described them as "three good people" and said "Kilrea just won't be the same without catching sight of them walking down the street".

They died in a two-car collision outside Portglenone, Co Antrim on Monday.

The crash, involving a silver Volkswagen Passat and a black Audi, happened on Lisnahunshin Road at around 10.40am.

All three victims, believed to be aged in their 60s, had been travelling in the Passat and were pronounced dead at the scene, while the male driver of the Audi was taken to hospital.

Fr Hegarty, a relative of the family, described how their tragic deaths had plunged the community into mourning.

"The deaths of Phil and Paul and Varena leave a gap that can never be filled, but one that is an indication of the depth of your love for them," he said.

He described how Mr Hegarty was like "part of the furniture" in Kilrea.

"There was a goodwill about Varena, a warmth and a kindness, and a laugh was never far away," he added.

"I feel cheated, because in this life, I'll never have that joy again.

"Paul was a strong big fella and was certainly no lightweight. He had an intellect and a searching mind.

"And then there is Phil, or 'Scobie' as he's been known for as long as I can remember... he wasn't married nor had his own kids, but he was a family man in every sense.

"I'm sure all his nephews and nieces would agree."

Remembering the high regard in which all three were held, the priest added: "Kilrea just won't be the same without catching sight of them walking down the street.

"Coming home will be a lot less special because Paul, Varena and Phil won't be about."

Mr and Mrs Creelman are survived by their children Sean, Damien, Mikaela and Tomas and were also "much loved grandparents".

Following the joint funeral service, all three were buried in the adjoining cemetery.

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